The ominous opening sentence, “I met the man who would save my life twice—and ultimately destroy it—on a potholed road in the arse-end of the Welsh countryside,” sets the stage perfectly for South African author Sarah Lotz’s outstanding thriller. The haunted speaker is Simon Newman, who fractured his skull in a climbing accident and now works as a barista. Simon seeks to add more adventure to his life by cofounding a new website, Journey to the Dark Side, which features spooky and scary images and videos. His search for unique content takes him to the wilds of Wales so he can enter the Cwm Pot cave system, where three previous explorers have met their deaths. His perilous exploit, aided by a possibly unbalanced guide, proves to be just the prologue to an attempt to scale Mount Everest, where other bodies await exploitation for profit. Lotz (Day Four) excels at making you feel like you’re there and her flawed lead sympathetic. Fans of Dan Simmons’s The Terror will be pleased.

Sarah Lotz. Mulholland, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-39660-8

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